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Perceptions of police: an empirical study of Chinese college students

Yuning Wu (Department of Criminal Justice, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, USA)
Ivan Y. Sun (Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice, University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware, USA)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Article publication date: 9 March 2010




This study aims to examine Chinese college students' perceptions of police.


Using survey data collected from over 400 college students in two cities, the study empirically analyzes the global and specific perceptions of police among Chinese college students and factors that accounted for the variation in Chinese college students' evaluations of police. The study incorporates a broader range of explanatory variables to explain Chinese college students' attitudes toward the police, including demographic characteristics, crime and criminal justice experience, perceptions of quality of life, and locality. The study reviews research on public perceptions of police published in Chinese academic journals.


College students' global satisfaction with police as well as their specific evaluations of police fairness, effectiveness, and integrity were significantly related to their crime and criminal justice experience, perceived quality of life, and locality. Students' background characteristics only had a weak effect on attitudes toward police.

Research limitations/implications

More empirical research is warranted to gauge the extent of Chinese satisfaction with police and police performance. Future research should continue incorporating crime and criminal justice factors into analysis.

Practical implications

Findings of the study provide Chinese police administrators with useful references and directions to improve police‐community relations..


This study represents one of the few attempts to empirically assess Chinese citizens' perceptions of police. It examines not just Chinese college students' global satisfaction with the police, but also their more specific views of various areas of police performance including fairness, effectiveness, and integrity.



Wu, Y. and Sun, I.Y. (2010), "Perceptions of police: an empirical study of Chinese college students", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 33 No. 1, pp. 93-113.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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